Whit Stillman was basically the king of the indies back in the 90s. The decade saw him release Metropolitan, Barcelona, and The Last Days of Disco, three movies about the young upper crust that got quite a bit of attention and earned him almost mythic status among the film nerd community. But the last time we saw a release from him was way back in 1998. I’m not going to do the math, but that was a long time ago. Does Stillman still got it?

In a word, yes. I was fortunate enough to see Damsels in Distress last year at TIFF, and I have to say, it’s by far my favorite Stillman work yet. This movie once again deals mostly with college-aged, well-off white people, but it’s so much more whimsical and more fairy tale-like than anything Stillman has done before. Damsels in Distress takes place in a world that looks a lot like our own, but where things aren’t quite the same; they’re a little bit weirder, and a little bit more wonderful. This is the sort of world where a new kind of soap can save a life and a new dance craze can break out at any moment. Check out said whimsy in the film’s first trailer:

The performances are charming from top to bottom, especially relative newcomer Analeigh Tipton (Crazy, Stupid, Love.) who effectively proves her leading lady mettle as the eyes through which we explore this universe, but if there’s one thing that this movie is going to accomplish it’s making a big star out of Greta Gerwig. She’s impressed me in things before, but here Stillman has seemed to craft an entire work aimed at the singular goal of exploiting her particular charms. She’s magnetic, she’s affecting, and I really can’t wait for everyone to get a chance to see her in this.

Damsels in Distress opens on April 6. [Yahoo! Movies]


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